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Weekly Digest of February 3rd, 2023

Compiled by Aalia Garrett, Niamh Dempsey, Trinity Gates, Sara Anis Ali, Zoe Shepherd, Hayes Orr, and Shekina Shindano

Edited by Aalia Garrett, Niamh Dempsey, Sara Anis Ali, and Riley Mied

Asia and the Pacific

At Least 100 Dead in a Mosque Suicide Bombing in Pakistan

At least 100 people have been killed with dozens more injured in a suicide bombing that ripped through a crowded Shia mosque in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar on Monday. This marks one of the deadliest attacks the country has seen in years. The vast majority of those killed in the bombing were police officers, as the mosque itself was located within a government security compound. Given the increasing security concerns in Peshawar, the mosque was built in order to allow police to pray without having to leave the area. The mosque was contained within a highly secure police district, leaving authorities unsure as to how the bomber managed to breach the several security checkpoints leading to the mosque.

The northwest region of Pakistan has recently been the site of several attacks on police and military officials by the Pakistani Taliban, also called the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). However, this latest bombing has broken a period of relative calm in the area, and the blast comes as the latest indicator of declining security in Peshawar, the capital of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, which borders Afghanistan. Though there are conflicting claims regarding who is to blame for the attack, the Pakistani Interior Minister, Rana Sanaullah, claims a breakaway faction of the TTP called Khurasani is the likely suspect. Initially, TTP officials Sarbakaf Mohmand and Omar Mukaram Khurasani claimed responsibility for the bombing, stating that the attack was “revenge” for the death of TTP militant Khalid Khorasani last year. However, the TTP’s main spokesperson later denied the group’s involvement in the attack.

Central America and the Caribbean

Suspected Assassins of Haiti’s President Sent to U.S.

Authorities transferred four key suspects in the murder of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse to the United States on Tuesday to face charges for their involvement in the assassination. President Moïse died after being shot 12 times at his residence near Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, on July 7, 2021 when a group of assailants broke into his house and wounded his wife. James Solages, Joseph Vincent, and Germán Alejandro Rivera face charges, including conspiracy to commit murder. The fourth suspect, Christian Sanon, faces charges for smuggling bullet-proof vests into Haiti to aid in the scheme against the president.

Purportedly, James Solages and Christian Sanon met in Florida in April of 2021 to discuss the need for a “regime change in Haiti.” Soon after, Sanon gathered equipment to support his own military force in Haiti. According to court filings, the plot grew from a plan to kidnap the Haitian leader to an extensive conspiracy to seize power in the country. All four men appeared in a federal courtroom in Miami, Florida, on Wednesday, and agreed to remain in detention while they are prosecuted. The case reached a standstill in Haiti, with multiple judges refusing to take the case because they feared for their safety. Haiti has historically struggled with corruption, violence, and political turmoil, and the assassination of Moïse sent the country into a downward spiral. After the murder of the president, gang violence rose exponentially, resulting in the displacement of over sixteen thousand people. Thousands more Haitians have fled the country, risking their lives at sea. Prime Minister Ariel Henry stepped up to preside over the country after Moïse’s murder, but has failed to restore the security of Haiti. Many Haitians even blame Henry for the continued plunge into chaos. Ralf Jean-Pierre, a businessman in Port-au-Prince, says life is extremely difficult for his family because of the government’s failure to get the country under control, stating “Even though we have a prime minister, no one is governing the country right now.”


The EU Creates Road Map to Compete with American Green Subsidies

The European Union has published new proposals this week in an effort to support clean European tech companies as concern rises that European companies may shift their investments toward the U.S. The U.S. Inflation Reduction Act has encouraged Europe to reconsider its own industrial policy, and the European Commission said the new measures to change the bloc’s subsidy rules would be a targeted and temporary measure. Measures include permitting European governments to match certain green subsidies directly, which would prevent a subsidy race with the U.S. while ensuring that the European bloc remains globally competitive. This proposed program would have several conditions, which the EU intends to outline further next week. The European Commission is also aiming to boost cooperation with trading partners by creating a critical raw-materials club as well as implementing a new time limit guideline for approvals, which is intended to amend one of the major hurdles for Europe’s clean-tech industry, which has been slow to permit approvals in recent years.

Middle East and North Africa

Morocco and Spain’s Renewed Relations

At a recent summit in Rabat, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and Moroccan King Mohammed VI signed twenty agreements to bolster trade between the two nations. Investments included construction plans such as new train lines, larger water sanitation systems, and renewable energy plants. However, the recent investments in Morocco have come at a strained point between Morocco, Spain, and Algeria's relationships. Spain granted Western Sahara independence in 1975, but Morocco and Algeria wanted to maintain a semblance of control in the area. Initially, Spain maintained its support Western Sahara’s independence, but this resulted in backlash from both North African nations. Algeria’s discontent escalated, prompting a suspension in trade between the countries. This led Spain to begin creating trade relations with Morocco, instead.

During the summit, Morocco and Spain used the shared space of dialogue to address another matter of contention: migration. In terms of migration, both countries have continued to work together to fulfill the European Union’s desire to limit illegal immigration. While the countries vowed to continue to work towards limiting this phenomenon, the decision came after a period of increased police violence against migrants that included the use of tear gas and batons, resulting in the deaths of 23 people in a single day last year. Much to the dismay of many human rights organizations, Morocco and Spain refused to address the issue that occurred at their border, and instead affirmed their commitment to limiting illegal immigration.

Outside of the matter of migration, the countries also discussed their dispute over the territory of Western Sahara. Western Sahara is home to the indigenous Sahrawi people, who have fought for their sovereignty from Morocco since the region’s annexation in 1975. The Sahrawi have fought for control for decades, though it was only when Spain allowed one of its hospitals to provide aid to a Sahrawi revolutionary early last year, that Morocco retaliated diplomatically. However, Spain recently shifted its position on Western Sahara, stating it would now support Morocco's new proposal which suggested that Morocco would be in control of the region, while the Sahawaris would be allowed to govern it. Consequently, this proposition incensed an already agitated Alegeria, which wanted its own access to the region. While it remains uncertain as to how Spain will reestablish relations with Algeria, for now, the country plans to continue to build close economic ties with Morocco instead.

North America

Increased U.S. Military Presence in the Philippines

The U.S. increased its military presence in the Philippines by gaining access to four more military bases, making the Philippines a key strategic partner for the U.S. in case of a conflict with China and Taiwan. This agreement of an added U.S. military presence allows them to station military equipment and build facilities in 9 locations across the Philippines. This is the first time in 30 years that the U.S. increased their military presence in the Philippines. The U.S. deal with the Philippines is part of a broader U.S. strategy to counter Chinese aggression by strengthening partnerships with allies in the region. A spokeswoman for China’s foreign ministry accused the U.S. of interrupting regional peace with this deal. The U.S. defense secretary, Lloyd J. Austin III, emphasized that new U.S.sites are not permanent because it is against the U.S. Constitution for foreign troops to be permanently based in the country. The U.S. Marine Corps aims to use the U.S. sites for missile attacks, rear support, and counterattacks. Three decades ago, the U.S.’s military presence in the Philippines was a controversial point for many Filipinos as it was seen as a remnant of American colonialism. However, when Chinese military attacks began in the South China Sea, the public opinion on the American presence in the Philippines shifted. As evident by the new deal between the U.S. and the Philippines, it is now a collective goal to fend off China’s growing military presence in the South China Sea.

Call for Major Police Reform Bill to Pass after the Death of Tyre Nichols

Vice President Kamala Harris spoke at the funeral of Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old who died three days after being beaten by Memphis police officers last month. The beating of Mr. Nichols after a traffic stop outraged the public. Now, Vice President Harris is calling on Congress to act. In 2021,Kamala Harris helped author the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which passed in the House but failed in the Senate. There is a renewed motivation to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act after the five Memphis police officers were terminated from their positions. The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act is an expansive policing bill which eliminates legal protections that shield police officers from lawsuits,makes it easier to prosecute police, imposes new restrictions on the use of deadly force, and bans the use of chokeholds. However, Senate leaders can’t agree on the legal liability shield that makes it easier to bring civil lawsuits against individual police officers for misconduct. Ben Crump, a civil rights lawyer for the Nichols family, argues an updated version of the bill should include a police officer’s duty to intervene when they observe police violence. It is expected for Democrats to continue the fight so this policing reform bill will pass in the near future.

South America

Unrest in Peru Threatens Global Copper Supply

In recent weeks, Peru has seen its most significant period of civil unrest in decades. The turmoil surrounding the planned impeachment and arrest of former President Pedro Castillo has left the country in a state of social turmoil and economic paralysis. Castillo, who faced an impeachment trial last December, was arrested on charges of rebellion and conspiracy following his attempt to dissolve Peru’s Congress by decree in anticipation of a third impeachment vote. Despite many credible allegations of corruption and a remarkably high turnover rate among his cabinet ministers, Castillo’s background as a teacher and his left-wing populist political stance endeared him to voters in Peru’s impoverished rural communities.

The protests sweeping the nation have been particularly intense in the country’s rural south, where leftist sentiment is strong and support for former President Castillo remains firm. On Monday, the Chinese-owned Las Bambas copper mine, located in the south of Peru, announced it will halt production due to security concerns raised over recent protests and road blockages. The Las Bambas copper mine is responsible for supplying over 2% of the world’s copper, an essential mineral used in electrical equipment, industrial machinery, and motors. Following the announcement, the mine’s owner, MMG Ltd (1208.HK) saw a sharp decline in its stock.

Protestors are growing increasingly agitated with the failure of the country’s congress to implement new elections focused on replacing the current president, Dina Boluarte. On January 20, protestors broke into another corporation’s mine, Glencore PLC, and demanded that the foreign company cease operations. According to the company, protestors looted worker housing and set fire to multiple buildings. Protestors have carried out these aggressive tactics in order to coerce foreign companies, which hold significant influence in Peruvian politics, to pressure President Boluarte into an early resignation. As the protests intensify, disruptions to one of Peru’s most valuable exports will have serious consequences for the national economy.

Sub-Saharan Africa

African Leaders Committed to Ending Child AIDS

On Wednesday, ministers and representatives from twelve African countries, including Angola, Cameroon, Côte d'Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Africa, the United Republic of Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe committed to a plan to end childhood AIDS by 2030. At the Global Alliance to End AIDS in Children ministerial meeting, international partners planned on how to provide support to countries that committed to the plan. This is vital as in 2021, children accounted for 15% of all AIDS-related deaths, despite only making up 4% of the total patient population.

The official plan, known as the Dar-es-Salaam Declaration, was endorsed unanimously by community representatives, UN agencies, and stakeholders. The declaration is committed to “ending the stigma, discrimination, and gender inequities experienced by women, children, and adolescents affected by HIV.” The first phase of the mission will be centered on the twelve aforementioned countries with the highest rates of HIV. This phase includes four initiatives which address rights, gender equality, and the social and structural barriers that hinder access to services. One of these initiatives is to “focus on early testing and optimal treatment and care for infants, children, and adolescents.”



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